DirectConnect was introduced in 2006 as a partnership between the University of Central Florida (UCF) and four Central Florida colleges: Valencia College, Brevard and Lake-Sumter Community Colleges and Seminole State College. Open to all students, this transfer initiative places emphasis on the student experience, smooth transition from college to the university, shared-use of facilities, and strong academic programs/services. Specficially, DirectConnect students receive preferential and concurrent admission to UCF, which increases student access. Shared advisers, curriculum alignment and a regional approach to programs ensure consistency across institutions, student success in subsequent courses/programs, and smooth transitions. Scholarship dollars are raised at joint philantrhopic events. For example, the Johnson Scholarship Foundation offered a challenge grant to support need-based scholarships specifically for DirectConnect students. Further, shared-use facilities at Valencia include the University Center at West Campus and classrooms and common spaces at the Osceola Campus. DirectConnect at Valencia is a fully integrated program that has no separate associated costs or budget, per se. It has proven to be a highly productive, fiscally responisble, and scaleable program, withstanding the best and worst budget conditions.
Accelerating Hispanic college transfer and degree completion is an intentional part of DirectConnect as is a commitment to practices and policies that produce positive results. DirectConnect at Valencia has enabled more of our Hispanic students to fulfill their college aspirations providing them with a compelling reason to stay the course, graduate from Valencia, and earn a baccalaureate degree at UCF.
- Since 2007, over 15,000 Valencia graduates have transferred to UCF as part of DirectConnect; 12% (3,695) were Hispanic.
- Our Hispanic graduation rates over the last decade have outpaced the rate for all of our students, increasing to 45.5% from 33.7%.
- Valencia’s Hispanic DirectConnect students comprised fully 35% of all Hispanic transfer students to UCF in the 2010-11 academic year.
- 53% of undergraduate minority students who started at UCF in 2011-2012 were Valencia transfer students.
- DirectConnect students are persistent. In 2011-12, 65% (4,178) of all UCF Bachelors transfer student completers transferred from DirectConnect partner colleges; 52% (2,425) were Valencia transfers.
- In 2011-12, Hispanic students made up 28% of the Valencia transfers who graduated from UCF with bachelors degrees.
- Overall, 41% of DirectConnect students (from all partner colleges) who completed a UCF bachelor’s degree did so in 2 years; 82% completed in 3 years; and 95% completed in 4 years. 17% of these graduates were Hispanic, as compared to 14% from Florida non-partner institutions.